Friday, February 4, 2011

February Eat from the Pantry Challenge

Maybe I'm crazy; maybe I just can't turn down a challenge. When my friend Gabrielle from Couponing in Critical Times set a challenge that she was going to "eat from the pantry/freezer/fridge"--aka, her stockpile--for the entire month of February, I decided to join her. I believe there are at least five of us actively trying to do this for two main reasons: save money and reduce waste. This is the ultimate in green living.

So often we buy things because they're a good deal and then they get shoved out of sight and we forget about them. Throwing away spoiled or expired food is just like throwing money in the trash; I can't stand it. So this weekend I took an inventory of everything in my stockpile to see where I could get creative with what I already have on hand. I have way too many cans of frosting, enough cereal for months, more beef than I know what to do with, and several goods nearing or just past their expiration dates. It's a good time for this challenge.

Each of us have set our own exceptions that work for our families. Personally, I'm allowing myself to buy fresh milk, bread, eggs, fruit, and a few veggies. I can't stand the idea of eating just canned or frozen veggies for a month, and I will not deny my family bananas and milk. I usually spend $500 on food every month. For February, I've set my limit to $200 for groceries and pharmacy deals. Also, if it's truly a freebie, I can get it. I think I'll come way under, but I'd rather give myself some buffer. We'll probably spend $36 on milk alone.

It's Day 4 of the challenge and so far, so good. I went to Kroger Jan. 27 and did my Walgreen's and CVS runs Jan. 31. Since then, I bought some bananas for $1.13 and had to stop in to Walgreen's for some decongestant and breathe right strips for Bobby. Thanks to register rewards and coupons, I saved $20.28 and only spent $2.26.

We've eaten lasagna and frozen peas, duck gumbo with shrimp and salad, stir-fry with pork loin and rice left-overs, and tacos. We'll probably have steak, potatoes, and broccoli tomorrow night. I'm not feeling deprived yet. We'll see how it goes. I think the hardest part will be telling my kids they can't eat something because we're out of it. However, I'll have what they need for healthy meals--just not some of the extra treats. They'll get over it.

Would you consider doing a challenge like this?

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